Joe lived to the ripe old age of 85, and in between, he lived his life out loud and made history in the process. Joe was born in Sante Fe, New Mexico, to a Mexican American mother (Florence Garcia) and a father with German ancestry. He was raised in the San Fernando Valley in California, attending High School in Newhall Hart High School and then attending college at the University of California Berkeley. There he became a standout Q.B., leading the Golden Bears to a Pacific Coast Conference Championship and an appearance in the 1958 Rose Bowl.

Original Story By A Govea

Joe was named an All-American Player for his performance that year and won the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy. Besides his outstanding play as the Q.B. on the football team, he also played on the basketball team that won the conference championship in 1957 and 58. Once his pro-playing career ended, Joe returned to coach his Alma Mata in 1982. Joe was named conference Coach of the year after finishing 7-4, a real improvement from 2-9 the previous year. His players loved playing for him and bought into his philosophy of one hundred percent for 60 minutes. Joe never got the Golden Bears back to the Rose Bowl as promised upon taking the job. Once saying that until then would refrain from his drink of choice, Tequila. The Bears did not return to the Rose Bowl, and according to a published interview, he was forced to switch to rum as his favorite libation.

In 1959 Joe was drafted by then the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders as the 209th player taken in the draft. Pero, funny thing (not for Joe), they never called him, which left Joe with bags in hand and nowhere to go. And while disappointing, it did not make him question his desire or skills to continue playing the game he loved. He knew some players went north to Canada to play in the CFL and had no problem going there to prove he belonged. Joe joined the Calgary Stampeders in 1959 and led the team to the playoffs, where they had not been in years. In 1961 Joe was traded to a new CFL franchise, the B.C. Lions. It did not take long for the trade to pay off, as two short years later, they appeared in the Grey Cup (Canada Super Bowl). The following year, in 1964, they became the Grey Cup Champions, and Joe was the toast of the town, albeit for a while anyway.

In 1967 the NFL called, and Joe was ready to join the Minnesota Vikings as an apparent replacement for Fran Tarkenton, that had just been traded to the New York Giants. However, to make this happen, it required a multi-team trade and not to mention an unheard two-league transaction. Joe led the Vikings to their first-ever playoff appearance in 1968. The next year the Vikings found themselves in the Super Bowl after a season with Joe throwing a league-tying seven touchdowns in a single game. They lost to the Chiefs in the big game, which did not diminish their achievement.

Joe left the Vikings in 1970 to join the then-Boston Patriots before they became the New England Patriots. In 1971 Jim Plunkett was drafted by the Patriots, which may have led to a contract dispute for Joe. Unable to secure a contract resulted in Joe quitting and later filing an anti-trust suit against the NFL. According to reports, from that time, Joe won the suit, but no damages were awarded. However, in 1977 the NFL players association settled a multimillion lawsuit based largely on Joe’s same grievance.

Joe played twelve years and may still be the only Quarterback to lead both a CFL and NFL team to Quarterback, team into the championships. As well as an appearance in the Rose Bowl with his college team, the Golden Bears. Joe also returned to the CFL in 1990 as the G.M. For his former team, the B.C. Lions, and in that role, signed Doug Flutie, another Q.B. that would return to have success in the NFL. Through all his playing days, he earned the reputation as a tough player that would not shy away from a hit. Most say that he would often initiate himself, which may have led to a Sports Illustrated cover story with the title Joe Kapp the Toughest Chicano. Joe was said to be full machismo, which regularly resulted in the occasional bar fight as well. Was all that true, or just a stereotypical characterization since he was of Mexican descent? Quien Saba (Who Knows) I will say that years ago, I did see a video of an altercation he had with another former CFL player in 2011 at a CFL Alumni Luncheon. This is over what Joe and his team at the time considered a dirty hit on a teammate in a 1963 CFL Championship game. I don’t believe anyone was seriously hurt, but according to the incident video, Joe did land a punch that rocked Angelo Mosca. Both men were already well into their seventies, so there were no real injuries other than maybe a bruised ego. While no one should condone violence, there is something to be said for having the energy to fight over something that was already 48 years old. Especially in your seventies, Ca No?

On May 8th of this year, Joe Kapp died from Alzheimer’s complications, a disease he battled for many years. Rest In Peace, Joe. You were a real trailblazer and a leader of men on and off the field.

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